Here at Mojo we’ve decided to start a little series about the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, commonly simplified to Coachella, to guide those first timers. For those who live under a rock, the annual gig is a three-day festival held in the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Each day, headliners and other musicians perform all day under huge art displays, desert palm trees and the California sun.
There are two main types of housing options over the three days: off-site and on-site. Off-site housing includes RVs, campgrounds or hotels, which are stationed outside the borders of the festival, meaning shuttle passes (an extra $60) are mandatory. On-site housing includes car camping or tent camping, options held at $85 each, which many compete to obtain since they’re relatively cheaper than hotels.
You should have figured out where you’re staying or made a plan to decide soon about your living situation, because when buying anything for Coachella, the motto “the early bird gets the worm” heavily applies.
Consequently, I’ve interviewed some people about some tips for those who have yet to figure out their housing plan and those who have already decided. Here are the ins and outs of Coachella housing according to veterans.
Off-Site Camping: Hotels
I asked two UCLA undergraduates, Emily Flathers, a first-year economics student, and Jamie Cho, a first-year theater student, to provide some tips on hotel stays. They’re both alumni when it comes to off-site housing at Coachella.
1. Book hotels based on their proximity to shuttle stops. It’s important to get a hotel near shuttle stops because the lines can get extremely long and this will save you time. Ubers and taxis are available but are even more expensive and time consuming. A three-day shuttle pass for $60 includes trips back and forth around the clock in air-conditioned luxury busses. They promise that it’s worth it.
2. Bring things to do. Coachella is an event that will exhaust you, but there will be some free time in the morning, especially if you are staying in a hotel. There will be lines for everything, so bring a book or two. Many also choose to pack bathing suits so they can lounge by the pool before shows.
3. Plan accordingly. Leave at least 30 minutes to an hour in your schedule to get onto your shuttle. You don’t want to miss your shuttle since it could be hours until the next one arrives. Also, pack lightly and make sure you have everything you need – it’s cumbersome and annoying to miss a show just for a tube of sunscreen.
4. At the beginning of the day make sure you check when the last shuttle trip out is. This rule is simple. If you miss the last one out, well, good luck.
5. Before you leave, place all your valuable items in a luggage case with a lock on it, or place the items in a safe. Theft isn’t a huge problem at Coachella, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
6. Look for hotels with continental breakfast. Not only are you going to Coachella, but so is your body. A hearty breakfast is always something your body will appreciate, especially when preparing for a day full of walking around under the heat. Take advantage of the food and don’t forget to hydrate yourself before the day with some orange juice or water.
On-Site Camping: Tents & Cars
I asked three students – Ali Calentino, a first-year biology student at University of Chicago, Paige Parsons, a first-year English student at University of Pennsylvania and Nicki Gigliotti, a first-year international business student at University of San Francisco – for some input on camping.
1. Although tickets have already sold out on the official Coachella website, camping passes can only be bought as “add-ons” to your actual ticket to the festival. This means that you can’t officially buy the camping pass separately since it has to be registered with the wrist band it was purchased with. However, if you’re on the look out for camping passes on StubHub or any other unofficial vendors, make sure you trade wristbands with the seller or else you won’t be able to get in the festival at all.
2. If you are in groups bigger than five, it would be more comfortable to get two camping sites. You’ll be glad you spent the extra $85 when you realize that it’s nearly impossible to cram seven people in a tent without bathing in someone else’s sweat.
3. Don’t forget your shower items and shower shoes. Camping is like college – you can roll straight out of bed and show up to class, or in this case, the festival – and the communal showers are no different. Kudos to those who can stay sane without showering for three days in desert conditions, but for the rest of you, stay sanitary, my friends!
5. Campers get special treatment at Coachella. There are exclusive events open for campers such as silent disco, arts and crafts and yoga classes that many people don’t know about.
6. Become good friends with your camping neighbors. You will most likely run out of something or forget items so it’s nice to have friends who are willing to lend a hat or some water.
7. When setting up your tent, make sure you set up your site so that it’s easy to take down. Wind storms are frequent in the desert and it’s required you take down anything that could blow away (your tent). Duct tape will solve more problems than you think, and also some indicator such as a flag will help you mark your campsite amongst the other thousands of sites around you.
Stay tuned to Mojo to read about more tips about Coachella!